Jerry Kyckelhahn, is far from a life-long athlete. Compared to the athletes of today, Jerry got a delayed start into triathlon, a delay of about 50 years. His experiences and late entry into sports ultimately led to a Pan American Continental Master’s championship in track sprints and finally to a USAT long course triathlon national championship. But his focus has never been on winning but rather on participation and health and fitness. He has written many previous local and national articles most of which have addressed how to have fun in triathlon and biking.
Triathlon for the Young at Heart
When should you get into triathlon? Anytime. My first triathlon was at age 61. I am training a lady who I taught to swim at age 62 and she will do her first triathlon at age 63.
By Jerry Kyckelhahn
Author of Chasing Caterpillars
“You are not going to be the fastest person in the race. You can be running your heart out and be at your maximum output and you are going to get passed by some high school girl chewing gum and dancing effortlessly down the road. Much as you may want to stick a foot out and trip her as she breezes past you, it is better to give her a smile than an obnoxious gesture. And it is better to say “Good Job” than to mutter under your breath about her lack of wrinkles.”
These words are taken from my book, “Chasing Caterpillars”, a tale of life and how to begin triathlon later in life. While this could be regarded as a shameless plug for my book, please consider it more as words of introduction into the realities of beginning triathlon for the “age enhanced”. Triathlon is difficult enough for the young; for the man or woman over 40, or 50, or even 60, triathlon increasingly becomes a true challenge. “Speed” takes on a whole new meaning. Sprint triathlons become difficult, Olympic distance events become monumental, 70.3 races become expeditions and 140.6 events – well, most just leave them to those who love suffering way too much. Success is redefined yearly.
But on the other hand the personal rewards for completing triathlons become greater each year. Also from the book: “It is hard to stand out there at the edge of the start of the swim in skimpy clothes when you are a bit aged. There just seems to be a bit of a difference between the body of a 60 year old and the bodies of the twenty, thirty and forty year old people around you. No matter how hard you work, the gray hair, or the lack of hair, just might give you away, not to mention the rather loose skin that just seems to be there. Just smile. You have had a long journey to get to the starting point, filled with so many lessons of life from family struggles, economic struggles, or just from coping with the many things that have been thrown your way. Your race is a very special race because your journey to get there was long and filled with both psychological and physical hurdles.”
Training for triathlons, competing in triathlons and just enjoying the associations of triathlon all become even more enjoyable for those who participate later in life. While each year the number of competitors decreases in these age groups the camaraderie in the events becomes closer. Your best friends often become the guys and ladies in the events and you truly look forward to each event more and more just to see these friends and competitors. You begin to know their families, including their wives/husbands, their children and even (OMG) their grandchildren. You enjoy each race and you do smile and encourage each of the younger triathletes as they pass you—or as you may pass them. And you will pass many.
When should you get into triathlon? Anytime. My first triathlon was at age 61. I am training a lady who I taught to swim at age 62 and she will do her first triathlon at age 63. She had never swum before and now swims a mile whenever she goes to the pool. She did not know how to properly mount a bike and is now is riding a skinny tire road bike. She is looking forward to her first triathlon this winter. We have worked on form since day one and I can say that her swimming form and her biking skills are excellent. Her run – next.
Whatever age you may be, if you have even a fleeting interest in doing a triathlon or training for the sports involved, please don’t delay. Start now. Some rules for late entries into the sport (age enhanced persons if I might call it that):
About the book “Chasing Caterpillars”
The book, “Chasing Caterpillars”, speaks to those persons who are standing on the edge, thinking about doing a triathlon, or even training for one, but still hesitant to take the plunge. It is a light, fun and motivating book designed to entice newcomers or wannabe’s to go ahead and just do it. The book relates the life experience of the author with the adventures and misadventures that befall the new triathlete. It particularly relates to those of the over 50 age group that have serious doubts. Fear not-- so says the book!
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